Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays Preview and Best Bets (July 3): After Friday fun, Jays look to dominate Rays again

Eddie Griffin

Coming into the 2021 MLB season, the Toronto Blue Jays were a popular MLB betting pick to make a run in the AL.

It hasn’t quite panned out as hoped, as they Blue Jays are only four games over .500 through 80 games. They are well back in the AL East and have ground to make up in the AL wild-card standings. But things are trending up for the Jays, even after a little midweek blip. Last night was the latest example of their prodigious potential, as they opened their series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a blowout win.

For the Rays, last night’s loss was the latest in an ill-timed slide. They may still top the AL wild-card standings, ahead of this weekend’s opposition and others. But they are trending down while the Jays and Seattle Mariners are trending up.

Can the Rays find some Saturday success to stem the slide? Or will the streaking Jays seal a series win over their AL East rivals? Let’s break down today’s tilt and find the best MLB betting value in this matchup.

Tampa Bay Rays (47-35) vs Toronto Blue Jays (42-38), Sportsnet, 3:07 pm ET

Probable Pitchers

  • Tampa Bay Rays: Shane McClanahan (3-2, 4.09 ERA)
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Ross Stripling (3-4, 4.27 ERA)

Rays vs Blue Jays Betting Odds

  • Moneyline: Rays -102, Blue Jays -116
  • Total: OVER 10 (-108), UNDER 10 (-112)
  • Run Line: Rays -1.5 (+158), Blue Jays +1.5 (-192)

Odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Saturday, July 3 at 11:45 am ET. For MLB betting odds for today’s other matchups, check out our MLB odds.

Rays vs Blue Jays Betting Consensus

  • Moneyline: 40% Rays, 60% Blue Jays
  • Total: 40% OVER, 60% UNDER (at O/U 10)
  • Run Line: 80% Rays, 20% Blue Jays (at +/-1.5)

Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays July 3 Matchup: Picks, Odds, Stats and More

Rays Need Strong Start From McClanahan After Back-to-Back Blowout Losses

It has been a pretty ugly few days for the Rays, to say the least. After a 15-6 road loss to the rising Washington Nationals on Thursday, the Rays opened their series in Buffalo with an 11-1 loss last night.

The Rays got off to a bright enough start at the plate on Wednesday, but the game got away from them with the Nationals scoring in six of eight innings.

Last night wasn’t much better, as the Blue Jays scored in five of eight innings. After allowing six runs in the first three innings against the Nats, the Rays allowed six runs in the first two innings. And with highly-touted pitching prospect Alek Manoah having a career-best start for the Jays, there wasn’t any getting back in the game for Tampa’s bats.

It is imperative for the Rays to get a good start from Shane McClanahan today. On a positive note, he has been solid in his last two starts. Against the Seattle Mariners on June 20, he allowed one run and three hits and struck out eight in six innings in a no-decision. Then last Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels he allowed three runs and four hits and struck out seven in six innings, earning his only June win in five June starts.

McClanahan has actually been better on the road than at Tropicana Field, but he doesn’t have a win to show for it yet.

Shane McClanahan Home vs Away

  • Home: 5 starts, 3-0, 4.63 ERA, 23.1 IP, 23 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 6 BB, 29 K, .253 OBA
  • Away: 6 starts, 0-2, 3.62 ERA, 27 IP, 25 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 10 BB, 32 K, .240 OBA

McClanahan has one start against the Jays this season, which came in Dunedin on May 22. And it was one of his better starts, as he allowed only one run and four hits in five innings. The Rays turned around an early deficit to win 3-1, with the rookie hurler receiving a no-decision in that outing.

From an MLB betting standpoint, that positive outing does inspire some confidence in McClanahan being able to keep the Jays in check today. But will the bats back him up if he does? Save for a couple of outbursts during the four-game win streak that was sandwiched between a seven-game losing streak and their current four-game losing streak, Tampa’s offense has suffered a bit lately. Either they have not done enough, or when they have done what should be enough, the pitching has not done enough.

Given that Sahlen Field is a hitter-friendly park, the bats are going to have to wake up a bit, even if McClanahan produces a decent start against one of MLB’s most dangerous lineups.

Stripling Seeks to Continue Solid Run to Secure Series Win

After losing their last two games against Seattle, the Blue Jays set out last night to get things going again. Between the bats exploding after being limited in Thursday’s 7-2 loss to Seattle and Manoah magnificently mowing down the Rays, it was a fantastic Friday at the ballpark for the Jays.

The two losses to the Mariners don’t cloud the fact that the Jays are hot at the moment. Since falling to 33-35 on June 18, the Jays are 9-3 in their last dozen games. With the Boston Red Sox impressively out ahead in the AL East, MLB betting odds do not look too favorably upon the Jays at the moment. But if they keep this up, things could get rather interesting in the second half of the season.

Big Bats Benefitting From Springer’s Return to the Roster

The offense certainly deserves a lot of credit for the run, as Toronto has scored seven or more runs seven times in those 12 games. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is still being Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and hit his 27th homer in last night’s win, but while he is their brightest star, he’s not the only one starring.

Over the last six games, Marcus Semien has been absolutely scorching. He is 13 of 27 (.481) with five doubles, three homers, nine RBI, and ten runs scored. In that same stretch, Bo Bichette is 12 of 27 (.444) with two doubles, a homer, five RBI, and six runs scored.

It is not merely a happy accident that this run has coincided with George Springer’s return to the lineup. Springer played in only four of Toronto’s first 70 games after signing a big-money deal in the offseason. He stepped back into the lineup on June 22, and after a couple of hitless games, he has started to get back into the groove. In his last seven games, he is 8 of 24 (.333) with two homers, six RBI, and five runs scored.

Springer is accustomed to being a leadoff hitter, but with Semien entrenched as the leadoff man now, he has batted fifth in most of his appearances since returning and batted fourth last night. As if they didn’t have plenty of threats in the lineup as it was, Springer’s presence and placement in the lineup makes the Jays even harder to deal with.

Stripling’s Improvement Important to Toronto’s Turnaround

For all of the attention that the bats get, pitching has made vital contributions during this run. That includes Stripling, who has bounced back well from a rough start to the season.

In his first six appearances of the season, Stripling was 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA. In his last seven appearances (six starts), Stripling is 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA. Also, the more his fortunes have improved, the longer he has pitched. In those first six appearances, Stripling pitched five innings only twice. In his last seven appearances, he has pitched at least five innings in every appearance.

The move to Buffalo has also paid off for Stripling.

Ross Stripling 2021 Splits (Dunedin, Buffalo, and Away)

  • Dunedin: 4 appearances (3 starts): 0-1, 5.40 ERA, 20 IP, 21 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 4 BB, 19 K
  • Buffalo: 3 appearances (all starts), 2-1, 2.70 ERA, 16.2 IP, 16 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 16 K,
  • Away: 6 appearances (all starts), 1-2, 4.40 ERA, 28.2 IP, 26 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 10 BB, 33 K, .234 OBA

Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays Best Bet: Blue Jays ML – The Rays will almost certainly right the ship sooner rather than later. But the MLB betting value for this one points in one direction and one direction only. The way that the Rays are trending right now, combined with the way the Jays and Stripling are trending at the moment, points to the home team securing a series win today.

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